News Briefs - February 21

Three make cut at Rural Sports awards

Harness racing will be represented by three finalists at the New Zealand Rural Sports awards at Palmerston North next month. Sam Ottley, the first woman to drive 700 winners in this country, is up for Rural Sportswoman of the Year, while junior driver Wilson House is a finalist for Young Rural Sportsperson of the Year, and Nigel Armstrong is in contention for Outstanding Contribution to Rural Sports. Among his many roles in the sport, Armstrong's Unhinged Facebook page has topped 500,000 page views a month. The finals will be held at the Awapuni Racing Centre on March 8 as part of the New Zealand Rural Games.

Jake gets the chocolates

The combination of Jake Millan and his pony Caramello were on the top of the world after taking out the Auckland Trotting Club's Kidz Kartz at Alexandra Park on Friday night. The 14-year-old took out his first Cup win since joining Waikato Kidz Kartz in 2019. He has two years of Kidz Karts left. Gemma Liefting was second with Pumpkin. Third-placed Qijanna Currie from Kumeu received the esteemed Roy Purdon Driver of The Future award while Mr Darcy and Kaitlin Barendregt from Franklin won the Best Presented title. The Roy Purdon award seeks to recognise a senior Kidz Kartz driver who not only excels in driving but also shows leadership within their club by helping others. 

To see the Kidz Kartz Auckland Cup  : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_1MrLhLZts

Ferguson hits 100

Trainer Craig Ferguson's 100th win over the weekend continued the bumper time he's been having of late. The Southlander registered his 100th training success with Da Vinci in the Gore Summer Cup on Sunday. The milestone came from 593 career starts. In recent seasons his UDR has been as high as .5455, with his best season wins-wise being the 34 successes he had last year. His first winner was with No More Change in April 2016.

Kiwis face fresh rival

Glamour Kiwi pair Don’t Stop Dreaming and Merlin have a serious rival in the Chariots Of Fire at Menangle on Saturday March 2, with New Zealand Cup-winning trainer Jason Grimson's recent stable addition, former Queensland gelding Frankie Ferocious, impressing with a big win at the same venue over the weekend. Frankie Ferocious blazed a 1min49.2sec mile winning by almost 12m, with closing splits of 52.9 and 25.8sec.

Champ on the road again

After an eight-hour road trip this week Grant Dixon’s budding champion Leap To Fame will be a commanding favourite in Friday night’s $100,000 Group 2 Newcastle Mile where a win would guarantee him a berth in the $1mil Miracle Mile at Menangle on March 9. One of Leap To Fame’s key rivals will be Luke McCarthy’s talented former Kiwi pacer Cantfindabettorman, who will return from a freshen-up. He beat Leap To Fame as a three-year-old.

Wins keep coming for ex Kiwi

Glenledi Elvis, the winner of his only New Zealand start for trainer Mark Smolenski at Kurow last August, continues to rack up the wins across the Tasman. The five-year-old, now owned by Mick Boots, took out Friday's Group 3 Albury Cup to secure his seventh win in just 11 starts.

Fitting win at Rangiora

It seemed only appropriate that Robin and Geraldine Wilson tasted success at Rangiora on Saturday. They sponsored the Rangiora Classic Handicap Pace won by Franco Marek and earlier in the programme Granny Rose, co-raced by the Wilsons, had his second win from 42 starts in the When Commemoration Trot. When set a new world record of 2:06 for a standing mile on the grass at Rangiora in March 1963. Robin Wilson is also a past president of the Rangiora Harness Racing Club and is a keen harness racing historian.

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